“Cheap” usually has a negative connotation of being a
Scrooge or a penny-pincher or buying something of low quality. I prefer to
think of myself as frugal or thrifty. When it comes to building a strong
marriage, however, creativity is more important than cost. Regularity is more
life-giving than one time extravaganzas. It is in this spirit that I share with
you a custom that my husband and I have been faithful to for about 30 years –
our weekly date.
a new city. Our lives were in upheaval with so many changes yet we knew that
unless our marriage was strong, we’d have a much harder time nurturing our
children and giving of ourselves to others. Our love is our foundation, but it
could too easily be swamped with setting up a household, job demands, and all
the daily stresses of an active life. We decided to save one night a week just
this to work, we had to make it a priority and not give way to the human
temptation to say, “Well, this weekend we have a lot coming up, let’s just skip
it this week and bump it to next week. We decided to pencil Fridays into our
respective calendars as our default date night for the whole year. Of course,
life happens and not every Friday was free. Our answer to this inevitability
was to agree we could switch any given Friday to another night that week, but
not omit it. With rare exceptions this worked.
discretionary money. Necessity prompted us to look for inexpensive ways to have
fun and nurture our relationship. The traditional movie date could become too
routine over time plus the price of pop and popcorn these days…(Did I say I was
cheap?) Besides, movies get us sitting next to each other but not looking at each other, and routine can dull
ardor. Going to dinner and a play is classic and would be a nice treat, but not
something we could afford on a frequent basis.
kids. As much as we love them, we needed adult couple time. We made it a top
priority to recruit a cadre of reliable babysitters. We asked friends for
recommendations and watched for responsible teens who weren’t hunks or gorgeous
but did have siblings. Getting a sitter, however, can be a burden so we
alternated who was responsible for scheduling the sitter each week.
not all dates have to involve leaving home. We sometimes didn’t have the energy
or money for a night out plus a sitter. Thus, the concept of having “home
dates” was born. The goal was to be able to stay up significantly later than
the kids. To do this we would sometimes give each other nap time during the
evening so that we wouldn’t fall asleep in the middle of an intimate
conversation. We might then have a late dinner by candlelight or sit by a
roaring fire. (Substitute a lot of lit candles if you don’t have a fireplace.)
Playing a game for two or sharing on an imaginative topic might round out the
childcare arrangements is done, there’s still the challenge of what do we do
and who is going to plan it? Our solution was to alternate who planned the date
so that the burden didn’t always fall on the same spouse. This also often
provided the element of surprise. Even if watching a wrestling match isn’t my
idea of fun, the anticipation and humor of it was a gift. Besides, next week I
could decide that we would try our hands at origami.
some free or inexpensive dates that we’ve tried:
Go to a local park or place of nature. Bring a blanket and a snack. In greater
Cincinnati we are blessed with spots along the Ohio River. Watch the lights along
the river and talk.
evening bike rides. If a bike trail is convenient it makes the riding more
pleasant and less work.
Watch a fall high school band competition and reminisce about our own high
Dress up. Go to one of the expensive downtown hotels with a nice lobby. Relax,
chat, maybe have a drink and pretend that you’re registered there.
Go to the airport, train or bus station. Sit where you can watch passengers
arrive. Watch loved one’s reunite and mysterious people go on their way. Make
up stories about the passengers you see and why they’ve come to your area. Perhaps
add a prayer for those who look like the purpose of their travel might be a
crisis or unhappy occasion.
Usher at a local theater. See some great shows for the price of a flashlight
and a little extra time.
Play scrabble (or other board games or cards for two). Note: Be sure you
are of relatively equal ability and the rules are mutually acceptable or this
can backfire. Trust me, I know.
Anything in front of the fireplace with popcorn. (Sharing topic: Each write
down 5 to 10 favorite times we’ve had together over our marriage. Reminisce.)
Roll up the rug, put on some dance music from your courting days and dance till
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